Thursday, October 18, 2012

Being an expat in Valencia

By Edouard Carlier, Globexs Valencia

Expatriation is a real lifestyle. But, what about living abroad? What do we have to know about hosting countries? There are many bonuses to living and working abroad and there are also a few pitfalls that you should really be aware of if you want to thrive on the journey rather than barely survive the move.

Moving to live in a foreign country or being a tourist for a couple of weeks/months are two completely different things: you’ll learn so much more about a country’s customs and cultures by actually living there. So, what about Spain? And Valencia? What do I really know about this country, this city? Spaiis generally associated to fiesta, paella, toros, siesta, sol, macarena, mojito … oh no, sorry mojito is not spanish!

But, in reality, Spain is a very contrasted country with many different cultures and celebrations. Valencia is Spain’s third-largest city with a population of some 740,000. It lies on the Mediterranean coast some 350km south of Barcelona. Madrid is a similar distance inland. Gastronomically, the region is home to ‘Paella Valenciana’, Spain’s most famous dish. Historically, it is believed that the Holy Grail resides in Valencia’s cathedral and it was here that El Cid fought the Moors. History is never so far from legends.

Valencia climate is propitious to having a drink outside on a terrace by night. In summer you can find very crowded places in some areas like Rusafa, Canovas or close to the harbor area. Valencia is a multicultural and very welcoming city. Lots of retired persons from European northern countries come to Valencia to have a sun break or to definitely spend their time here.

Before coming to Valencia, you should have in mind some practical details. What about safety? Valencia is, in general, a very safe city. Some neighborhoods are less recommendable like El Cabanyal, which is the former fishermen village, or the Malvarrosa area. But, sincerely, you can go almost everywhere in the city without wondering about your security.

What about the cost of living? As you probably know, Spain is suffering a very high level of unemployment and Spanish people have to find solutions to adjust their spending. Sharing a flat among young generations is becoming the rule more than the exception. For an expatriate with an average salary, the cost of life in Spain is very affordable. But Spain is somehow like an energetic island so the cost of electricity is quite expensive. For the accommodation, you are gone find what you are looking for on the short rental stay market or on the long rental market. Spanish flat owners are, in general, comfortable with renting their flats to expatriates.

And, what about the expatriate community in Valencia? Do they have schools for their families? Do they have their meeting places? Of course, depending on their origins, expatriates can find schools for their children. There is for example a french school, an american school or even a british college. Valencia offers a wide range of educational facilities for expatriates families. Among the fiesteros in the valencian nightlife, you will find many expatriates enjoying their life in Valencia. The Canovas area, for example, is one of the meeting points for expatriates. But, always have in mind that, in Spain, the rhythm of life is totally different. Dining at 10:00 PM is not surprising here. For expatriates, this way of life requires some adaptation capacities.

So, come to Valencia and make your own experience of living as an expatriate. No matter where you are from, Valencia will receive you with open arms and many surprises are waiting for you here. 

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